The drinking water epidemiology program is the centerpiece of a unique collaboration between the San Francisco Department of Public Health and the Public Utilities Commission. Our aim is to ensure a safe drinking water supply by acting as a resource to the Public Utilities Commission with regard to health issues related to drinking water. We provide immediate support and response to events that raise health implications and concerns. This includes coordinating surveillance in the event of water quality problems, providing fact sheets or press releases in response to public concerns when water quality study results are reported in the media, responding to media and customer inquiries regarding water information related to San Francisco's Public Utilities Commission water quality and providing health perspective on legislative measures concerning the San Francisco's Public Utilities Commission Water Quality Division.

Waterborne Disease Surveillance

Cryptosporidiosis Surveillance Project

The San Francisco Bay Area Cryptosporidiosis Surveillance Project actively solicits reports of confirmed cryptosporidiosis from clinical laboratories serving patients in the counties served by SFPUC.

Emergency Planning

We collaborate with the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission on developing emergency plans; SFDPH is the Component Lead for the SFPUC's Water Security Initiative Pilot multi-year grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to address the risk of intentional contamination of drinking water distribution systems.

Water Quality Issues

Regulatory support

We provide regulatory support by interpreting relevant medical literature to assist with regulatory compliance issues and by providing comments on proposed new regulations

Chloramine Conversion Support

The drinking water epidemiology program has been providing information and support to the SFPUC since the conversion to monochloramine for residual disinfection in 2004, to ensure a safe drinking water supply. SFDPH continues to support the use of chloramine for secondary disinfection in the SFPUC water system.

Free lead-in-water testing for WIC-eligible families

The Water Epidemiology program coordinates the program to provide free lead-in-water testing for WIC-eligible families in San Francisco.

Fact Sheets and Public Information

The water epidemiology program develops fact sheets on a number of topics. These may be found by searching the term "Water" in our document database.

Legionella: Impact of drinking water disinfectant conversion from chlorine to monochloramine

This collaborative study found that switching from chlorine to monochloramine for disinfection dramatically reduced Legionella colonization in buildings in San Francisco that receive municipal water.

Non Potable Water Uses

Interim process for nonpotable water reuse projects

The drinking water epidemiology program is working closely with SFPUC and San Francisco Department of Building Inspection to develop a program that allows the use of suitably treated onsite alternate water sources including rainwater, seepage water, graywater, and blackwater for nonpotable purposes in appropriate commercial construction projects.